What is An Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are a group of diseases that involve an immune-mediated attack on the body’s own tissues. In healthy individuals, the body knows the difference between “self” and “non-self”. This is an extremely important function of the immune system which allows it to recognize invaders and defend the body against harmful pathogens while protecting host tissues. However, in an autoimmune disease, immune dysfunction occurs resulting in self-reactive immune cells and antibodies that target your bodies own tissues. This can lead to tissue damage, inflammation, and loss of function in affected tissues.
Some examples of autoimmune conditions include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
What Causes Autoimmune Diseases?
The etiology of autoimmune diseases is multifactorial, involving a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Approximately 30% of autoimmune diseases are believed to be attributed to genetic predisposition, while the remaining 70% are attributed to environmental factors. I love the saying, “Genetics loads the gun, but the environment will pull the trigger”. Often times, there are other contributing factors to why someone develops an autoimmune disease.
Research has identified several possible environmental toxins and chronic underlying infections associated with immune dysfunction and autoimmunity. Identifying and going after underlying toxins and pathogens is an important part of approaching autoimmune conditions.
What is an Integrative Medicine Approach to Patients with Autoimmune Conditions?
At Roots Integrative Medicine, our approach is as follows is symptoms management while also looking for a deeper root cause(s). Diagnostic and treatment regimens are tailored to each individual patient and involve optimizing diet, nutrition, lifestyle while also searching and treating underlying triggers.